Will injury Staal the Pensí chance at Cup?

STEVE SIMMONS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:07 PM ET

The case could be made that without Jordan Staal there is no way the Pittsburgh Penguins win the Stanley Cup a year ago.

Now, with Staal out after tendon surgery ó and the likelihood of his return questionable ó can the Penguins find a way to keep advancing without the most decorated third-line centre in all of hockey?

Staal is really only a third-line guy because he plays behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeny Malkin and itís extremely rare to see a team with so much strength down the middle.

He has first-line speed and a game which offers up all kinds of possibilities.

Years back, the dynastic Edmonton Oilers had Craig MacTavish as their third-line centre, but he wasnít a player of Staalís overall capabilities.

Youíd almost have to go back to the New York Islanders teams that had Bryan Trottier, Butch Goring and Brent Sutter and then followed that up with Trottier, Sutter and Pat LaFontaine to see three centres in the same lineup that equal Crosby, Malkin and Staal.

Now three becomes two for the Penguins.

It may not factor this round against the Montreal Canadiens.

But you canít lose a Jordan Staal ó just like Montreal canít lose an Andrei Markov ó and replace him.

It will be a factor somewhere down this playoff line.

This and that

Should I stay or should I go? And since when did Chris Boshís life become a Clash song? ... And really, what was the normally sensible Bosh thinking, toying with social media about a such an enormous personal decision? By the way, since causing a stir with his Twitter comment Friday night, Bosh has been silent to the time of this writing ... It didnít take long for Alexander Ovechkin to become a punchline. Apparently you can order an Ovechkin in some bars: Itís a White Russian, without ice or Cups, and if you take a sip, you just might choke on it ... Firing Bruce Boudreau is silly. Insisting he teach the Washington Capitals that there is more than one way to play the game is not ... Why so much excitement for the World Cup landing in Toronto? Not the games, just the trophy? In a country that doesnít quality for it. Doesnít excite me any ... Making the Jaroslav Halak-Ken Dryden-Patrick Roy comparison is a huge stretch. Halak is a decent big-league goalie. The other two are all-timers. And I couldnít help but wonder that if Bob Gainey was still general manager of the Canadiens, would Carey Price have been forced ahead of Halak?

Hear and there

It is entirely possible that the next round of the Eastern Conference playoffs will feature Matt Cooke vs. Marc Savard ... The more I watch playoff hockey, the more I realize how cheated Toronto fans truly are ... And since when did the CFL draft become something anyone outside of Regina paid any attention to ... Among those selected in Saturdayís OHL draft: The sons of Al Iafrate, Shayne Corson, Ron Tugnutt and Warren Rychel ... A good lesson for hockey parents: Of the first 61 picks in the OHL draft, 19 came from the GTHL. Translation: If youíre one of the 190 triple-A players in Toronto, you have a 1-in-10 chance of being a reasonably high draft pick for major junior ... If the rookie Serge Ibaka had bothered to box out Pau Gasol in the final seconds Friday night, there would have been a Game 7 in the spectacular Lakers-Oklahoma City series ... The idea of William Shatner as Governor General only makes sense if thereís a place for James Spader as his trusty assistant.

Scene and heard

Sad that the biggest baseball names to come to Toronto this summer ó Reggie Jackson, Harmon Killebrew, Earl Weaver ó are here for an autograph show and to take part in the opening-season festivities for the Intercountry Maple Leafs ... Some are blaming the Rihanna-Matt Kemp relationship for Kempís lousy start and the early collapse of the Los Angeles Dodgers ... The best way to score on Antti Niemi: Shoot ... Iím angry - and every minor-hockey person should be angry ó that the already expensive price of ice rentals is now more expensive because of this abusive HST tax ... If the NFL fines and suspends players for bad behaviour, shouldnít they be doing the same to Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland, who asked Dez Bryant in his pre-draft interview: ďIs your mother a prostitute?Ē ... Something is wrong in Denmark or San Jose when Miro Satan has more playoff goals this season than the combination of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley ... Still without contracts: Carlos Delgado, Jermaine Dye, Pedro Martinez, Gary Sheffield and a host of other big names.

And another thing

Doesnít the fit seem right: Ken Hitchcock and the New Jersey Devils. Discipline meets discipline ... Rajon Rondo was the 21st pick in the 2006 NBA Draft. The first pick that year was Andrea Bargnani. And I would trade Bargnani for Rondo in a split second ... Rondo, by the way, called Cleveland the worst-dressed city in America. Guess he hasnít been to some parts of Tennessee ... The Washington Nationals are playing money games with highly paid minor-league pitcher Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg will likely be promoted to Triple A today but isnít likely to end up with the Nationals until June, when his arbitration time is delayed by a year ... Would still love to hear John Fergusonís explanation ó or even Richard Peddieís ó for the Tuukka Rask for Andrew Raycroft trade ... Happy birthday to Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson (38), Jacques Rogge (68), Dave Hutchinson (58), Greg Terrion (50), Reggie Pleasant (48), Reggie Slack (42) and Lesley Gore (64) ... And hey, whatever became of Harold Druken?

Definitely wonít be gonzo next year

This is what you call good baseball business.

Not only are the Blue Jays smiling over the early-season performance of shortstop Alex Gonzalez ó seven home runs in April ó but they have to be smiling about how the exchange of shortstops from Marco Scutaro to Gonzalez has worked out.

The offence from Gonzalez, while surprising, isnít completely unexpected considering his career numbers (he averages 16 home runs, 70 RBI for every 162 games played).

The Jays hold a club option to maintain Gonzalez next season but also benefit from the compensation of a first- and second-round draft pick from the Boston signing of free agent, Scutaro.

Another priceless Raps scenario

If Chris Bosh ends up signing as a free agent with the Miami Heat, the Raptors will only have themselves to blame.

You see, the only way Miami has the cap space to sign Bosh is because they have this large expiring contract in Jermaine OíNeal, from a previous deal with the Raps.

And itís not just that: The next time the Raps make the playoffs, Miami also takes Torontoís first-round draft pick from the OíNeal deal.

And what would Toronto have to show for it?

Well, the Raps have Marcus Banks and his $5-million contract and Hedo Turkoglu (via the Shawn Marion deal).

Not exactly the way to build a champion.

Enough Leaf talk about Cammalleri

In the non-ending debate regarding the Leafsí acquisition of Phil Kessel, the discussion lately has centred on whether Toronto should have signed free-agent Mike Cammalleri last summer.

This makes for wonderful talk-radio fodder, even if it is entirely meaningless.

The Leafs, in truth, made a reasonable pitch to sign Cammalleri. He turned it down in favour of a similar deal with Montreal.

And while itís certain the Leafs would have been better off signing a game-breaker as a free agent rather than trading so much future away for one, the discussion is moot.

The Leafs tried for Cammalleri.

He said no.

Shouldnít that be end of story?


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